Interview with Leslie Regier - Part 2

Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities? Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Leslie: I do believe we can promote our own cause, inside or outside of the larger group. We are grouped together for various reasons, but as transgender persons, we ourselves may be straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. That is something that some people outside the group may have difficulty understanding.
I should note that we are seeing more letters added as other individuals wish to be recognized as outside the majority of gender, sexuality, and sexual identity. I have recently seen Intersexed, Queer, and Questioning added to the series, but I don't know how widespread that usage is at this time.
Monika: Is there anyone in the US transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the 60s and 70s for gay activism?
Leslie: I am not personally aware of any person currently, and this goes back to what I said earlier about going back to the university for my Master's Degree. In keeping busy with my engineering studies, I simply cannot keep up with everything transgender-related these days. Your question encourages me, however, to catch up on reading the transgender-related newsletters that I receive.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Leslie: I am not active in politics, but I feel that by being out and setting a positive example for others, that I am making a difference.
I think transgender women can make a difference in politics. Naturally, as people, they have the same ability as anyone else to effect change. As transgendered, they can serve as the role models you asked about earlier and they have the opportunity to bring another perspective into discussions regarding rights, policy, and law. Hmmm, maybe I should get into politics.

My Watcher Angel outfit for Halloween.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Leslie: Love is very important to me, and it comes in different forms. The obvious ones are the loved one has for a romantic partner and the loved one has for other people in general—family, friends, neighbors, people we don't know, fellow human beings, and so on. I feel a lot of love for others, but I think you are referring to the former: romantic partner love.
I have not yet found romantic love, but I have a strong desire to find that someone to share my life with, to hold close, travel with, et cetera, and I keep my eyes open for this person. As happens with so many other people in this world, I have had mismatched connections. The persons I have expressed interest in have not been interested in me, and conversely, those who have been interested in me I have not felt that certain chemistry for. One day there will be a match, and I look forward to that day.
An interesting aspect of love that I write about in my book is that after my transition I found myself in love with a male friend. Unfortunately, it could go nowhere because he was not available, but falling in love with him taught me a valuable lesson. The experience showed me that when it comes to love, what's most important is what is in the heart, not what type of body that person occupies. Before that realization, my interests were limited to women only. Now I seek my love in whichever gender he or she takes.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Leslie: I do enjoy fashion—but not the mainstream styles that most people think of. I don't even know what's popular among the masses these days. I identify as Goth, and although my typical daily wear consists of pullover tops layered with a sleeveless shirt worn like a vest over black or brightly-colored jeans—or occasionally a skirt—I wear nicer outfits when I have time to dress up.
If I'm going out to the club or to an event of some sort, my usual choice would be a Goth-fashionable top over a skirt and boots—all in black. For parties I have sometimes put cyber locks or dread falls in my hair, and that's a lot of fun. It takes more effort though, so I don't usually get that fancy. Once I complete my Master's degree and have more time to dress up, however, watch out!
I should also mention that I have enjoyed sewing ever since I was a child, and there have been times that I have modified store-bought clothing to suit my style by adjusting hemlines or adding decorative trim. I have also made and designed my own clothing to express my own sense of fashion. 
In summary, I would say I enjoy black with some colors mixed in, and I would rather appear unique than follow popular trends. Interestingly, I refuse to wear standard blue jeans. Even when I was living as a male I seldom wore a pair of blue jeans.

Still-frame from a video at target
shooting league.

Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Leslie: My next step? That is an interesting question. I suppose the primary next step is to finish my university degree. Once I complete that step I will be free to start a new career and to go out and enjoy the world more. I will have more time for myself and to meet my love if we don't meet by chance sooner.
In the next 5-7 years I see myself in a new career based on my mechanical engineering studies. Whether I am working for a company or operating my own business, I do not know yet. I see myself writing more, and I see myself enjoying life with someone I love.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Leslie: The most important thing I would say is to be careful, but do not be afraid. Let it out, and do not allow it to hold you back. My fear held me back for too long. The result was unnecessarily broken hearts and disruption in life.
When I finally stopped suppressing my gender dysphoria and let it out, my life changed for the better in more ways than I could have anticipated. If we are gender dysphoric and we are to follow this path, I really think that the earlier we get on this path, the better things are for everyone.
Beyond that, I would say to someone: Take the time to explore yourself and your relationships. If you were raised as one gender but move toward a different gender, allow yourself the opportunity to develop that new gender as your true self.
When I entered into my transition, it was in some ways like a second childhood. I explored fashions, colors, new friendships as a female, and new ways of interacting with others. By getting a late start, I felt a little awkward on occasion, but eventually, I found my style and way of expressing myself. In my case, the way I interact with others is essentially the same as early in the process, but the style I express is much different from when I began my transition.
Monika: Leslie, thank you for the interview!


All the photos: courtesy of Leslie Regier.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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